Adsorption and abiotic transformation of methyl tert-butyl ether through acidic catalysts

Axel Fischer, Claudia Oehm, Michael Selle, Peter Werner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The fuel additive methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) is sometimes considered to be a recalcitrant compound in groundwater. Due to MTBE's relatively poor adsorption and low volatility, interest is growing in new remediation methods which provide an alternative to using activated carbon or stripping techniques. This study addresses the abiotic degradation (hydrolysis) of MTBE to the intermediate tert-butanol (TBA). Two selected materials with acidic properties were shown to hydrolyze MTBE in batch tests at moderate pH values. The sorption of MTBE and TBA was estimated with Freundlich isotherms. Isotherms and TBA formation were used to calculate MTBE degradation. In another experiment, TBA was degraded aerobically by microorganisms. Since TBA seems to be more easily available as a carbon source to microorganisms than MTBE, the catalytic transformation of MTBE to TBA and methanol could enhance the natural attenuation of MTBE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)827-833
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Environmental Engineering
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Adsorption
  • Degradation
  • Ground-water pollution
  • Zeolite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science


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